Professor Ian Wilson

Could you tell us about your contribution, Ian?Prof. Ian Wilson

My award was made based on an outstanding contribution to Research and Innovation (R&I) and Academic Citizenship and Leadership and a significant contribution to External and Professional Engagement (E&PE). Although I do feel a fraud when terms such as ‘outstanding’ and ‘significant’ are used to describe what I have done!

My contributions have been made through my role in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) where for the last three years I’ve had the privilege to be the Deputy Director. This role includes contributing to the strategic direction of CRESR, having a responsibility for our income generation, financial sustainability and capacity management, and line management.

My R&I contributions fall under the broad area of applied policy research and evaluation. Much of my work has been related to these core themes:

  • How do public and social policy interventions affect people and communities, especially those in most need?
  • How do we measure and value the impact of public and social policy interventions on people and communities
  • How do policies interact with place and person specific factors to affect the level and nature of outcomes for people and communities?

My work addressing these questions has been at the forefront of policy analysis, critiquing and informing interventions and solutions targeted at social and economic inequalities and disadvantage. In doing so I have established myself as an expert in policy research and evaluation, with specific methodological expertise (measuring and valuing impact) and subject expertise (provision and affordability of housing and place-based interventions).

As part of my R&I contribution I’ve supported £1.3 million of research income as a principal investigator and more than £14m as a co-investigator. I have contributed to over 100 published research outputs and 13 peer-reviewed journal articles. My work has also been central to two REF impact case studies in 2014 and 2021.

What does it mean personally to you to be a professor at Hallam?

Personally, I really value the recognition by my peers that my work has made a contribution to R&I and the academic environment.

However, although I really value the personal achievement I equally acknowledge and thank my colleagues who have support and shared my work.

Tell us a bit about your career story so far.

I’m fortunate that I started working at Sheffield Hallam in October 2004, a month after completing my master’s study. I was originally taken on as a Research Assistant in CRESR supporting the national evaluation of the New Deal for Communities Programme in England. The post afforded me the opportunity to focus on key academic and policy interests that I developed in my studies: applying innovative quantitative methods to measure and understand the impact of place-based policy aimed at supporting disadvantaged communities and tackling inequality. My post was made permanent a year later – which I believe is a real advantage that the University offers to support academic careers.

I have since remained within CRESR working on a range of exciting projects that have allowed me to develop my specialism and expertise. I also benefited greatly from working with colleagues who have offered me lots of support and development opportunities. This has enabled me to progress my work and ultimately my career as I moved through the grades from the old ‘Researcher A’ to Deputy Director of CRESR.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some career advice, what would it be?

I feel very lucky to have the career that I’ve had so far. It’s been extremely enjoyable and rewarding working in a supportive environment with colleagues on interesting and impactful projects.

Yes, with foresight I would have done some things differently and I would certainly have benefited from greater confidence – especially when presenting and meeting other academics!

Ultimately, I’d probably say to myself ‘enjoy it, give all opportunities a go and give them your best effort.’

What’s next? How do you want to further develop your contribution?

I’ve recently being commissioned as a co-investigator by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to fulfil a £10m call-off contract to deliver a range of research and evaluation studies focused on housing provision for marginalised groups. Given the significant monetary value of these research contracts and their close involvement with government policy teams I aim to develop a number of high-quality research articles, as well as leading a REF impact case study underpinned by this body of work.

Within my leadership role in CRESR I hope to work with the leadership team to refine our structures to ensure that we remain financial sustainable whilst also developing our readiness for the next REF assessment, supporting the delivery of the University’s new framework for R&I and enhancing our research culture and academic environment.